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Many preschoolers with autism miss early services

Recent research suggests that many Minnesota preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder miss years of services and supports that could significantly improve their lives.

As part of National Autism Awareness Month this April, MDH is highlighting the need for parents, providers and educators to look for the early signs and symptoms of autism. The need for this became more apparent at the start of 2014, when a study showed that some Minnesota children with autism were not receiving the help they need during their preschool years.

In January, the University of Minnesota with support from the CDC and MDH, released the results of a study that looked at autism in Minneapolis. The study found that in 2010 the average age of autism diagnosis for Minneapolis children was about 5 years old, even though autism can be diagnosed as early as age 2 years old.

Research shows that early identification and actions such as targeted therapies and education are the most powerful tools available to help children with autism reach their full potential.

Some signs and symptoms of autism include:

  • Saying no single words by 15 months or no 2-word phrases by 24 months.
  • Resisting snuggling when picked up; arching back instead.
  • Making little or no eye contact.
  • Rocking, spinning, swaying, twirling fingers, or flapping hands.
  • Not crying if in pain or not seeming to have any fear.
  • Being very sensitive or not sensitive at all to smells, sounds, lights, textures, and touch.

Parents with concerns should follow-up with a health professional or their school system quickly so that services for their child can start as soon as possible.